The opening session of the Theology Through the Centuries course seemed pretty promising. I had started both groups out with a pretty heavy set of readings: background stuff, but background stuff that they very well might have needed more background stuff in order to understand. So it was something that I assumed I'd have to take them through again when we had our session together. I did this following the rubric for class discussions that Dan and I are using for our sections, as a way of introducing them to that rhythm, and things went pretty swimmingly: I figure at least half of the students in each section spoke out and contributed something, and that we were able to construct an explicit-enough constellation of ideas and terms on the board (with sufficient background stories for them) that now they are in fact oriented for the first primary-source reading for next week, which is Athanasius' On the Incarnation of the Word. I collected their self-introductions – a thing I'd picked up from TAing for Mickey Mattox – and found them to be funny and informative. I have a decent number of Theology majors and minors scattered around there, a lot of whom are double-majoring. I talked to one girl after the second session who was not moving (because she had Theology of the Early Church in the same classroom during the following period) and found out about her having added Theology as a second major to her Biomeds/Pre-Dentistry major, just because she thought it was so interesting. That's the type of thing that I'm just as excited to see was well as the regular major: people who fully intend to do something other than a theology- or ministry-related job, but who want to be theologically-informed. They are the critical population for forming the kind of synthesis with other disciplines or jobs that the project of Christian theology requires.
Went out for dinner with Julie on Tuesday to catch up. We both had ideas about where to go, but I bowed to hers this time as she was very eager to introduce me to a local place she knew by her apartment on the East Side. In fact, I see this place every week as I go over to Collector's Edge, but I'd never gone into it: a hole-in-the-wall-looking pizza place called Zaffiro's Pizza and Bar that had just about the best thin-crust pizza I've ever had. This was soooo worth it, and we gabbled over pizza and salad about her doctoral applications; about maintaining friendships over long-distance and what it was about friendship that allowed or didn't allow for that possibility; about family, especially hers while I read over the copy of the Riederer family Christmas Card and Letter that she hand-delivered to me at the table and while she cooed through Leslie's booklet of the best pics of 2007 of Grace, Haley, and Sophia; about the new improv comedy group that she was helping to start up, mostly of alums of Marquette's Studio 013 Refugees; about class differences in American life; and about my plans and approach for teaching Theology Through the Centuries, which was the class I was TAing for, for Mickey Mattox, as I mentioned above, in which I had actually met Jules back in the fall of 2005 and from which we became friends. She was in a rather sentimental mood, and laughing about it, but it just added to the fun of the dinner conversation, all told.
Other than that, it was a fairly predictable and low-key week. I babysat for the Lloyds on Wednesday so that Dan could teach his class and Amy could take off for the airport for a meeting with her new boss, since there had been some reorganization in her company. She was around long enough to put Anna down while I took care of Owen, and then they napped through most of my afternoon there while I did dissertation work. And afterwards I could process with Dan about how the first actual work session of his section of Theology Through the Centuries had gone, as he's on a MW schedule and I'm on a TTh schedule.
Tn my own "downtime," I continued poking away at the project of converting my stuff to digital forms for storage and access. In particular, I'm taking some of my group materials and making them available for some old friends, too. So I've been converting some tape from the Notre Dame Folk Choir's 1997 Ireland/Northern Ireland tour this week, which was more busy-work than anything else, once I figured out how to improve the audio and video quality as best as I could. I also was able to take the concert footage, rip the audio track from it and upgrade it into decent-quality mp3 files, so now I have a full audio version of a full concert from that time, plus extras, which is great fun. I got two hours' total music, between the entire concert at St. Iberius in Wexford Town, the tracks Kristin Ahasic's video had from the tour finale at Ennis' Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, and from Mary Frances Hegarty's reception for us at Ballindooley Castle and its aftermath. It's fabulous to hear this music again that was such a huge part of my life, especially in getting mp3s of songs we didn't record for our CDs, like the "Africa Gloria," or "Tabhair Dom Do Lámh" ("Give Me Your Hand"). I'll be converting the Southeast States tour that we did in January 1996 pretty soon, as well.